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Russia launches Soyuz rocket with Meridian-M military satellite from Plesetsk spaceport

All of the rocket’s pre-launch operations and its liftoff proceeded in the normal mode

MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. A Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with a Meridian-M military communications satellite has blasted off from the Plesetsk spaceport, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.

"At 11:24 a.m. Moscow time on Thursday, February 20, a combat team of the Aerospace Force’s Space Troops successfully launched a Soyuz-2.1a medium carrier rocket with a Meridian-M satellite from launch pad No. 3 of site No. 43 at the Defense Ministry’s State Testing Cosmodrome (the Plesetsk spaceport in the Arkhangelsk Region)," the ministry said in a statement.

All of the rocket’s pre-launch operations and its liftoff proceeded in the normal mode. The ground-based equipment of the Russian orbital grouping’s spacecraft automatic control system exercised control of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket’s launch and flight, the statement says.

"This is the first launch of a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket from the Plesetsk spaceport in 2020. The flight tests of the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket started at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on November 8, 2004. Over the past 15 years, 43 launches of Soyuz-2 carrier rockets of the 1A, 1B and 1V upgrade levels have been carried out from the northern cosmodrome," the ministry said.

As a source in the domestic space industry told TASS earlier, the launch was initially scheduled for January 24 but was put off due to a short circuit in the electrical equipment of the rocket’s third stage. After that, the rocket was removed from the launch pad and its faulty stage was replaced.

Russia’s Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company received an order in 2017 for the production of four Meridian-M military satellites, which represent second-generation communications systems intended to replace Molniya and Raduga space vehicles.